Cleaning Toilet bowl w/o harming septic

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by turtlehead, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    We are in an old old farm house that has some kind of septic but we dont' know what kind and we dont' know how old it is. We try hard not to upset it :)

    What can I use to clean out the toilet bowl (we get iron stains here) that won't kill the "good" bacteria in the septic tank?

    I've been using Pine Sol but I think that's probably a very bad idea.
     
  2. savinggrace

    savinggrace COO of manure management

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    Hi,

    Have you considered white vinegar? :)
     

  3. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    I use baking soda and white vinegar. It fizzes up and I brush it really well. I use a Lysol type cleaner on the rest of the toilet to kill germs, etc.
     
  4. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You have to understand that anything you put in there goes into the tank that has a much larger volume than what you put in, as the tank is likely 300-350 gallons or more. Consider anything going in will be diluted by the ratio of how much you put in to the size of the tank. Personally, I think you could use just about anything and it would be suffiicently diluted and won't affect the majority of the bacteria. The only caveat is to make sure that the air continues to go. Even if you kill off half of the bacteria in the tank, you'll continue to feed the remainder of the bacteria, which will do the work, but without the air (oxygen) those bacteria won't fluorish and do their job.

    Having said that, I don't watch what we put in our septic tank and in 15 years, only had a problem when the air pump quit.
     
  5. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    I have never heard of an air pump for a septic tank. Does your sewage drain properly when the power goes out? As for myself, I would avoid bleach products, and go with vinegar/baking soda.
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    turtlehead, are you asking about a one time thorough clean or just regular interval cleaning such as weekly?
     
  7. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    A little bleach from cleaning and washing clothes is not going to hurt a standard septic system. There is so much organic matter in a septic tank that the bleach is "neutralized" almost immediately.

    I do not understand the use of vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base. When you mix the two together, you get salty water with a neutral pH and foam (carbon dioxide bubbles). How does that clean anything?
     
  8. PinkBat

    PinkBat Well-Known Member

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    I've been using chemical toilet cleaning product for 20 years in our septic system. We've never had a problem. We had the septic system pumped out only once in 20 years, about 6 years ago and we're told then that it didn't really need it.
     
  9. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I've been told when I switched to 'green cleaners' to use an even mix of washing soda and borax to clean toilet bowls. I did that the other night used the brush to swoosh it around, left it overnight, and scrubbed the next morning with brush again, and it came out clean.
    Someone also mentioned to use 1000 mg. of Vitamin C, so I tried that and left it in the bowl overnight. It didn't clean nearly anything close to that of the borax/soda mix.

    I'm trying to start using the recommended vingegar/bicarb mix also for cleaning. Can someone explain the chemistry behind why that work? I'd like to know as CF also asked?
     
  10. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    DON'T burst my bubble...the foam is cool!
     
  11. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Oh, good question! A regular weekly cleaning is what I'm after.

    I don't think this is a "standard" septic system so we can't count on any normal volume or functionality. This is an OLD house and there are no zoning laws here. When we bought the house the contract stated something like "possible septic". To be honest when we first moved here we feared it might just be dumping out under the house. Maybe there is a septic tank, maybe just some metal drums in series, I don't know.

    We had a guy come out and he dumped dye in the toilet and we monitored the field downhill from the house and the wet weather creek and never saw any dye so that is good.

    All the gray water goes into a wet weather creek, as does the gray water from our neighbors' houses. That was new to us! But as you can see, nobody around here is too conscientious about filtering gray water and that makes me think they weren't too conscientious about "proper" septic systems either.
     
  12. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Lisa - when I was a kid we always mixed baking soda and vinegar together and put it on a bee sting to make the hurt go away.

    The stings still hurt but the cool foam action did make it better. Never underestimate the power of cool foaming action. :p
     
  13. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    What is washing soda? Is that arm and hammer, like you use for cooking? :shrug:

    You're the second person that's recommended borax. I thought it would hurt the good bacteria guys but apparently not? :shrug:

    I sure am using this guy :shrug: a lot today :)
     
  14. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    I agree! I wonder if you could clean your toilet with Pop Rocks? :p
     
  15. treefrog

    treefrog Well-Known Member

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    never heard of an air pump for a septic system. around here, septic systems run on anaerobic (without oxygen) digestion of wastes. this produces methane gas (sewer gas) which is vented up through the plumbing system to a vent above the roof. this is why a "trap" is required under the sink/basin. toilets include traps by their geometry. i'm pretty sure i know what i'm talking about, since i'm recording secty. for the plumbers and pipefitters union here.

    pax
    t.f.
     
  16. Jane in southwest WI

    Jane in southwest WI Well-Known Member

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    The vinegar works well for removing odor and stains. The baking soda is a mild abrasive. I use both for cleaning the coffee pot and stainless steel sink. (Yeah, the foaming action is fun :)

    For the porcelain (sink, toilet) I use a "green" "Bathroom cleaner" that I got from our natural foods coop that is just a mild vegetable-based soap with tea tree and lavender essential oils. A bottle of that lasts a long time because it's concentrated.
     
  17. savinggrace

    savinggrace COO of manure management

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    Vinegar and Table Salt can clean anything!

    I use table salt with a damp rag to scour pots, ect. If you are concerned your cutting board might have germs/bacteria on it, wash it, liberally sprinkle salt and let it dry, then wipe off salt and rinse again. it works quite well. Vinegar cleans just about everything else.

    Bleach is Bad.

    :p
     
  18. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    There are many residential aerobic treatment systems on the market nowadays. These systems go in between the septic tank and the drainfield. An aerobic treatment system treats only the effluent that comes out of the septic tank, (ie, treats the liquid waste, not the solid waste). The driving force for aerobic treatment systems are for home sites where a “standard” septic system would not be approved (high watertable, high bedrock, tight soils, etc). An aerobic treatment system adds about another $5K to$10K to the cost of a septic system and they require routine (ie, quarterly to annual) maintenance.
     
  19. Charleen

    Charleen www.HarperHillFarm.com Supporter

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    Baking soda and washing soda are NOT the same product. But Arm & Hammer manufactures both.
    Washing soda is found in the laundry detergents section of your grocery store. In a box, usually on the top shelf, just out of my reach :rolleyes: .
    Baking soda will be found in the baking aisle at the grocery store.
     
  20. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Charleen,
    Thanks - I'd never noticed washing soda. It will be out of my reach too :D I think I'll give the soda and borax a try.